Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Two Recensions of the Book of Ezra: Ezra-Nehemiah (MT) and 1 Esdras (LXX)

Dieter Bohler

Abstract: Like Proverbs, Jeremiah and Daniel, the book of Ezra has been transmitted in two recensions: Ezra-Nehemiah in the Hebrew Bible and 1 Esdras in the Greek Bible. Each version has its own distinct literary shape. Both editions overlap in the account of Zerubbabel's temple building and Ezra's mission. In addition to this common material both versions contain special property: 1 Esdras starts with the last two chapters of Chronicles (Ezra MT only with the last verses) and includes the so-called guardsmen story, a Zerubbabel legend not found in Ezra-Nehemiah. On the other hand Ezra-Nehemiah contains the account of Nehemiah's city building lacking in 1 Esdras. The article shows that this last difference in literary shape is connected with a whole series of small textual differences between the overlapping material of two versions which therefore betray themselves as being part of an intentional recension rather than scribal errors. The Zerubbabel and Ezra account of 1 Esdras does not expect a coming Nehemiah story whereas MT's Zerubbabel and Ezra text is compatible with the following Nehemiah account.